Hickenlooper wants new panel to resolve standoff on drilling regs

Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order Wednesday to create a special task force to examine local and state regulatory issues surrounding oil and gas drilling.

The 11-member task force, which is to report its finding to the governor and Legislature by April 18, was sparked by a slew of local governments in the state that have approved or are considering stricter drilling regulations than those imposed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state agency that oversees the industry.

“This is an important step to better define state and local jurisdiction regulatory structures as Colorado’s oil and gas industry continues to grow,” said Hickenlooper, a former petroleum geologist. “We expect these efforts to also help foster a climate that encourages responsible development and enhances existing cooperation and coordination between state and local governments.”

The task force is to look at such issues as drilling rig noise abatement, wildlife concerns, setbacks, floodplain restrictions, air quality and traffic impacts.

The issue was the driving force behind two bills that were introduced into the session earlier this year.

One measure, introduced by a Republican senator, would have given the state sole regulatory authority over drilling issues. It was killed in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

The other bill, introduced by a Democrat, would have given more oil and gas regulatory power to local governments. It died in the GOP-controlled House.

The task force is to include state and local officials, members of the oil and gas commission, environmental advocates and representatives of the drilling industry.

House Speaker Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, and Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, will appoint one person each to the panel.


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